Baked: Nutella Scones

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My babies spend the night at their Papa’s on Wednesdays so tonight I wanted to bake them something special to see them off to school in the morning.

I made Chocolate Hazelnut Spread as part of Baked Sunday Mornings this past weekend and I wanted to use it up. (the last thing I would want is for yummy homemade goodness to be abandoned in the depths of the fridge) My boys LOVE Nutella so I knew Nutella Scones would surely be a hit.

I have only made scones one other time–a couple of years ago I attempted fig scones. This was pre-Kitchenaid so they probably weren’t great.

Now, you don’t need a stand mixer to make scones but until I owned my stand mixer I was not really advancing in my baking craft. There is really only so much you can do without one so even though I think I’ve always been a decent baker, the Kitchenaid helped me take it to the next level.

I have no idea how these will taste (hopefully fantastic) but scones are pretty easy to make. In this case you whisk together dry ingredients and set them aside, then smoosh in cold cubed butter. Next, whisk heavy cream and one egg then add to the butter/flour mixture. The chopped hazelnuts go in last.

Once the dough can more or less stay together you turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead/smoosh/guide it into a roughly 12×6 rectangle. After spreading the rectangle with Nutella you roll it (I had my dough on a flexible plastic placemat so I began the roll with the sheet around it to make it easier) into a cylinder.

Form the cylinder into a slightly flattened disc then cut into 6-8 pieces.

I was excited because I got to set up another drizzle station. Once the scones are baked you put them on a cooling rack and drizzle with warm Nutella.

The hard part for me was the baking time. I underbake cookies by quite a bit and underbake cakes slightly, but it’s my understanding that a scone that is too under has more in common with a raw pancake than a gooey brownie. (yuck)

Anyway, mine are all done! I can’t wait to have one with coffee in the morning!

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I hope my guys like them!!

Piñata Cake: The Verdict

Well, the piñata cake was a hit! I was so amazed and pleased when the cakes just slid right out of the bowls. They looked great!

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I let them cool overnight, then filled and frosted them Monday afternoon. We had plans to have dinner at our friends’ house and I wanted to share the sugar bomb cake with them so we wouldn’t all die from sugar shock have leftovers hanging around.

It was a little heartbreaking to carve my beautiful cakes up, I have never done that and it was a little weird. I hollowed out the bottom bowl a lot but left most of the top intact. I love cake and could care less about candy (that is not chocolate) so I wanted to leave as much cake as possible.

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Easter candy was on sale last week so before my boys went to their Papa’s for the weekend I let them pick out a few things. They chose jelly beans, mini candy bars and Angry Bird gummies. They also chose Cadbury caramel eggs but those got lost in my tummy over the weekend somehow. 😉

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Once the bottom layer was filled I added frosting to the “lip” to secure the “lid” and plopped it right on top. It was perfect.

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After doing a crumb-coat (essential when frosting any cake) and chilling for about 15 minutes I was able to quickly frost the cake and decorate with copious amounts of sprinkles. (I made a huge mess, but I had to leave it because we were in a rush to pick up the boys and head to dinner)

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When we told the boys we had dinner plans they were disappointed because they thought that meant I didn’t make the cake like I had promised. Do they not know me?! I never renege on cake!

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All the boys ate impatiently and did the obligatory post-dinner playing before demanding that we cut the cake. Their friend J had already tried the wonder that is Pinata cake because his mom is L, is my friend who gave me the recipe.

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So even though it was delicious, this will always be a cake we share with lots of other people, and probably only on special occasions. But my sweet husband and I have already discussed ways to make this type of cake less sweet and more elegant. We were thinking yellow cake filled with pretzels and homemade malted milk ice cream and topped with salted caramel ganache. It would also be fun to make it square instead of round. You could even hollow out cupcakes and put things like fortunes or tiny presents in them.

How would you make this cake less playground and more dinner party?

Piñata Cake!

I am finally making a piñata cake for my boys. I wasn’t paying attention the first time I read the recipe and didn’t realize I didn’t need special pans for it, you just bake the cakes in heat-safe bowls. Genius!!

My big littles will be home tomorrow afternoon and on Friday I promised them the cake would be ready upon their return.

The original recipe calls for white cake mix, which I’m sure you know I believe is an abomination so I borrowed a recipe from my friend, L who has already made the cake.

*L’s Easter Piñata Cake:

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The white cake was easy enough to make, it used a slightly different technique than I’m used to for most cakes, but the batter was light and fluffy and tasted yummy when I licked cleaned the spatula.

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The only thing I’m a little nervous about is baking in bowls, since I’ve never done it before. The cakes are in the oven so I guess we’ll see! I hope I can get them out cleanly, but I’ll keep you posted!!

Are you doing any baking this weekend?

Lemon Fest 2013 Continues

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Last night I crossed off two projects from my baking to-do list. Lemon Pudding Cake and Duke of Earl Cookies.

I used Meyer lemons in both recipes which was why I was trying to do both at once. Plus, the cookie dough needed to chill in the fridge for an hour or so, which is about how long the cake needed to bake for, so it worked out well.

For the cake, I got to set up my first bain-marie and I was excited to see that it worked perfectly. In fact, nothing about that recipe was stressful or difficult. It was a breeze to make and was a great mid-week dessert–and it tasted fantastic. Really, exactly how I was imagining.

It was so nice to dust confectioners’ sugar on top and feel confident that not only was it really pretty, but it was probably going to taste exactly how I thought it should.

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The cookies used the zest from the lemons that I used for the cake and was also an easy, straightforward recipe. I followed the recipe exactly, I bought brown rice flour for it. (I had rice flour but not brown rice, but I wanted to get the slightly nutty flavor that the brown rice would provide.

The dough wasn’t at all frustrating–it was simple to roll into a log (unlike my cinnamon rolls 😉 and again I used my brioche pan to support it while it chilled. It made 26 cookies (the recipe said it would make about 40) and after they were through they were round and sparkly (from the superfine sugar) I tasted one and gave one to my sweet husband to taste.

Both of our response? “Good.” Not great–but good. I was looking forward to eating them this morning, but I made the mistake of brewing my customary pot of coffee instead of a pot of tea and I think the dark espresso overpowered the taste of the delicate earl grey cookies.

The rice flour gave it a slightly crumbly texture: like a pecan sandy. I have to admit, I normally prefer giant chewy cookies, but again, these cookies were perfectly delightful and a low-key addition to breakfast. But still…they were missing something.

So what does one do when faced with so-so cookies and leftover, glossy lemon curd and fluffy-sweet lemon vanilla buttercream?

Yes, frosted cookies served with a schmear of curd…

Perfect. And I still have 3 lemons left!!

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Duke of Earl Cookies: The Sugar Cube

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I love tea. I really do. You wouldn’t know it to talk to me because all I talk about is my love affair with the dark mistress, coffee. But there was a time when I didn’t drink any coffee at all but instead had a nice, steamy mug of Earl Grey tea each morning instead.

I love the idea of incorporating tea into baked goods, and if I’m not mistaken, I’ve attempted to make chai cookies before, to not-so-great results.

But I am loving this cook book so far so I have a good feeling that the recipe would turn out well. I have a few projects on the list first, but I love having small treats to nibble in the mornings when I am drinking coffee and who knows, this could inspire me to go back to tea…

So which side are you on? Team Coffee or Team Tea?

Hummingbird High: Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

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I have several Meyer lemons leftover from my yummy Easter Lemon Drop Cake. I’ve been wondering what I should do with them…lemon ice cream? Cupcakes? But as luck would have it, I stumbled upon this fortuitous recipe on one of my (new) favorite food blogs.

It seems completely meant to be right? Pudding…cake–my two favorite things on the planet coming together to help me not waste these beautiful, fragrant, thin-skinned lemons.

My boys are bugging me to make a Piñata Cake like I have been promising, but given the sensitive time constraints of the ripe lemons I think this might have to come first.

I promise, boys: Piñata Cake is next!!

Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

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We were invited to my boys’ Nana’s house for Easter this year. Her birthday always falls close to Easter and every year I’ve ever spent it with her I’ve made her a cake to celebrate. She’s in luck now because I’ve been improving my baking steadily over the years and I do make a pretty badass nice cake if I do say so myself.

I just bought a new cook book and this recipe in particular jumped out at me. It was described as ‘sunshine on a plate’ um…yes please!!

I have to say, I’m usually not a huge fan of lemony desserts but Nana is not a huge fan of overly rich desserts so I wanted to make something I thought she’d like. I had no idea I’d end up loving it as much as I did.

I found a bunch of beautiful ripe, organic Meyer lemons that I was super excited to use for this cake. The smell of them always takes me right back to when I lived in Berkeley, some of the best times of my life. I was so worried I’d eff the cake up, I wanted so much for it to be perfect.

The night before Easter Sunday I baked the three cake layers. The batter was easy and fragrant and baked up perfectly. The cake seemed springy and moist but also a bit delicate. I was so excited to wake up and make the curd and the lemon-scented vanilla buttercream frosting.

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The cake came together perfectly, and right in time for us to leave. It was a pretty humid day, rain was in the forecast. I would have preferred to refrigerate the cake for a few hours to set a bit but there was no time and there is something amazing about room-temp buttercream melting on your tongue.

After a lovely frittata and an antipasti platter it was onto the cake. It slid against the cake-taker on the drive over which stressed me out to no end but after a few mimosas I wasn’t so concerned. When we went inside to grab it the top two layers were trying to escape: they had slid away from the base layer. No worries, we just scooted them over with a spatula and the cake still looked great.

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When I took my first bite I swear I heard angels sing. There is something so miraculous when all components of an untested recipe come together well. If I had have not been a guest I would have definitely did some sort of happy dance. It was amazing. Delicate/tender crumb, sweet/tart curd, perfect, delicate lemony-vanilla frosting. Holy cow.

The (belated) birthday girl enjoyed it too. I thought she was going to take the whole thing inside with a fork for some alone time but she managed to restrain herself. 😉 We left half of the leftover cake there and ate the last of our half this morning with coffee.

I was right: a few hours in the fridge made it all come together beautifully. This recipe is a keeper!!

Weekend Baking

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I was looking forward to my day off with my sweetie all week. I decided that I would surprise him by baking a batch of yummy cinnamon rolls for us to share during our lazy Sunday. I started the process Saturday night. After the dough log firmed up in the freezer I sliced it up and put 10 pieces in a greased 13×9 pan, covered it with a towel, crossed my fingers and went to bed.

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It’s still weird for me that such an easy dough works so perfectly, especially since I was using the Milk Bar Mother Dough with the Brioche Cinnamon Roll recipe from the Craft of Baking book. I was worried that I would wake up to small little slices, but was greeted instead to a full pan of fluffy dough-love. I used the leftover filling that oozed out during the rolling/wrapping process by spooning it on top of each roll.

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While the rolls baked I made the glaze and set up a handy little drizzle station with a plastic tray and a cooling rack. After about 30 minutes they were all set. I was so happy that my romantic brunch turned out so well. What did NOT go quite as planned, however was the fact that my husband was called into work bright and early on our ONE day off together. He got dressed and left, leaving a sad husband-shaped empty spot in our bed.

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Baby G was still asleep so I got up to see if I had totally wrecked my cinnamon rolls or not. The funny thing was, since my honey wasn’t around to enjoy them with me I didn’t really care they turned out or not. But my bakers’ ego was definitely thrilled to see how puffy and beautiful the rolls had become overnight.

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I decided to make the best of eating breakfast alone by putting on The Smiths and making a good strong pot of coffee.

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Even though I was really disappointed that my honey would have to come home to cold cinnamon rolls, I was pretty happy with the way they turned out….and so was Baby G. 🙂

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Casual Baking

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Tonight my sweet husband made tacos for dinner and after we were through looked around and said ‘anything for dessert?’ I’ve been working lately on expanding my baking techniques and trying to master new skills, but sometimes it’s nice to know I can whip up a quick batch of regular cookies.

I have a lot of tried and true basics that work every time. This time I made a classic chcoolate chip cookie, but added 2 tbs. espresso (ground beans) and a cup of oatmeal.

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At the same time I was making the cookies I decided to use up the batch of Mother Dough I had on hand. You’re supposed to use it within 3 days and that would be tomorrow. I had planned to use 1/2 for kimchi/blue cheese croissants but ended up using all of it for cinnamon rolls.

Mother Dough: It’s alive!

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As I was rolling out the dough I realized I was going to have to use the whole batch. When I poured the filling over the dough it ran all over the place. I tried not to panic and I used the bench scraper to get runaway filling into a bowl to pour over the rolls tomorrow when I bake them.

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I awkwardly and messily rolled the dough and the filling into a cylinder and wrapped it in plastic wrap. It was an oozy tube but luckily I have a baguette pan so I slid it on there and threw it in the freezer.

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It took quite a while to clean up everything from dinner, clean up dirty dishes from cookie-making and clean up after my cinnamon roll situation, but there is nothing as satisfying as going to bed with a clean house. I even folded a load of laundry and took out the trash for good measure.

It’s about time for me to check on the cinnamon rolls. If they are firm enough I can slice them and put them in the 13×9 pyrex dish so they can rise one more time. If everything goes well they’ll be ready to throw in the oven in the morning.

Can you believe I’ve never made cinnamon rolls before?

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